The number of devices you can talk to is multiplying—first it was your phone, then your car, and now you can boss around your appliances. Children are likely to grow up thinking everything is sentient, or at least interactive: One app developer told The Washington Post that after interacting with Amazon’s Alexa, his toddler started talking to coasters. But even without chatty gadgets, research suggests that under certain circumstances, people anthropomorphize everyday products.
Sometimes we see things as human because we’re lonely. In one experiment, people who reported feeling isolated were more likely than others to attribute free will and consciousness to various gadgets. In turn, feeling kinship with objects can reduce loneliness. When college students were reminded of a time they’d been excluded socially, they compensated by exaggerating their number of Facebook friends—unless they were first given tasks that caused them to interact with their phone as if it had human qualities. The phone apparently stood in for real friends.
Read the whole story: The Atlantic